Carbohydrates are the body’s ideal fuel for most of your bodies functions. They supply the body with the energy needed for the muscles, brain and central nervous system. In fact, the human brain depends exclusively on carbohydrates for its energy. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy products, foods made from grain products, and sweeteners such as sugar, honey, and corn syrup.
During digestion, all carbohydrates are broken down into glucose before they can enter the bloodstream which is where insulin helps the glucose enter the body’s cells. Digestible (non-fiber) carbohydrates is converted into glucose, which our cells use as fuel. Simply carbohydrates break down quickly into glucose while complex carbohydrates break down slowly therefore entering the bloodstream more gradually. Some glucose stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles are used for fuel, extra glucose is stored as fat.
There are three types of carbohydrates
1.Simple carbohydrates are composed of 1 or 2 sugar units that are broken down and digested quickly. Recent research has shown that certain simple carbohydrate foods can cause extreme surges in blood sugar levels, which also increases insulin release. This can elevate appetite and the risk of excess fat storage.
2.Complex carbohydrates (also referred to as starch) are made up of many sugar units and are found in both natural (brown rice) and refined (white bread) form. They are structurally more complex and take longer to be broken down and digested.
Complex carbohydrate foods have been shown to enter the blood stream gradually and trigger only a moderate rise in insulin levels, which stabilizes appetite and results in fewer carbohydrates that are stored as fat. Unrefined or ‘whole grain’ carbohydrates found in products like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and bran cereals are digested slowly. They contain vitamins, minerals and fiber which promote health. Fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and beans which are carbohydrates also have many important functions for the body and are important for good health.
3.Indigestible carbohydrates are also called fiber. The body is unable to breakdown fiber into small enough units for absorption. It is therefore not an energy source for the body but does promote health in many other ways.
Simple carbs, complex carbs, and fiber are found in many foods. Some provide important nutrients that promote health while others simply provide calories that promote girth.
- Sugar, syrup, candy, honey, jams, jelly, and soft drinks contain simple carbohydrates and little if any nutrients.
- Fruitscontain primarily simple carbohydrate but also valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
- Vegetablescontain varying amounts of simple and complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
- Legumessuch as beans, peas, lentils and soybeans contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
- Milk productscontain simple carbohydrates along with protein, calcium and other nutrients.
- Grain products contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. The amounts vary depending on the type of grain used and the amount of processing. Selecting whole grain options whenever possible is recommended.
When to eat Carbs & Why?
A good time to consume healthy starches or fruits is first thing in the morning or upon waking up for a few reasons.
- You’ve fasted all night while you sleep so glycogen levels have been somewhat depleted and this leaves extra room for carbs to replenish lower glycogen. This is especially effective if you work out in the a.m.
- Your metabolic rate runs highest during the m. hours (or after you wake up from sleeping) than it will later in the day so you’ll more likely use these carbs as energy.
- Insulin sensitivity is also higher when you wake up than other times of the day, which allows your body to utilise carbs and limit fat
An even better time to consume starches and fruits is a few hours before high intensity resistance training (MRT, bodyweight circuits, or metabolic circuits) or a heavier weight training session.
This will ensure that these carbs are used as energy during and after the workout to avoid fat-spillover – and provide sustained energy throughout the workout. Better performance = better results.
Additionally, the extra insulin release will help prevent muscle loss and increase gains in lean muscle tissue.
The best time to consume pure glucose polymers from starches and sugars from fruits is in your post workout anabolic window of opportunity, which is anywhere from 1 to 3 hours after high intensity training.
In fact, if you work out late at night you could actually consume your LARGEST carb serving of the day right BEFORE bed and not worry about fat spillover.
This works best when you’re following more of a maintenance schedule so I don’t recommend using this tip when trying to achieve rapid fat-loss, but it does prove the point that eating late at night doesn’t really make you fat.
So there you have it ….. You can have your Carbs and eat them too!! If you are interested in nutrition or would like to discuss it further please don’t hesitate to call because we’d love to talk to you about it.
About the Author:
Dirk Hansen has been a Health & Wellness Professional, Presenter and Writer for over 35 years, featuring both in Australia and the USA.
You can learn more about DirksHealth and what we do by calling 9365 7033 or by posting a comment above.